Although Ayam Penyet had not originated from Brunei, many Bruneians know and love this dish enough to consider it a common comfort food.
Ayam Penyet, which means “smashed fried chicken” in Javanese, is a dish consisting of a golden-brown crispy fried chicken, fresh crunchy vegetables, piping hot steamed rice, and a spicy sambal sauce. What’s not to love about it?
Here’s a guide to some of the most popular Ayam Penyet eateries in Brunei.
Ayam Penyet Tanjung Nangka
Based in someone’s home, this spot offers a relaxed atmoshpere with friendly faces, a close-knit neighbourhood feel and food that reminds you of your mom’s home cooking.
Location: Simpang 1626-5, Tanjung Nangka, Jalan Tutong. Next to a sweetcorn (jagung) stand.
Cost: BND 3.50
Thoughts: The skin on the Ayam Penyet was thin and crispy and had been fried well without leaving a heavy and greasy feel in the mouth. The meat was soft but was seasoned rather plainly with just the right amount of salt. The sambal that was served with the Ayam Penyet was sweet with a strong chili aroma, mild dried prawn flavour and just a slight kick of spice so it’s perfect for those who can’t handle spice well. They also offer the option to have spicier green chili sambal should you prefer more heat. Overall, it tasted very much like home cooked food with simple, universal flavours. (The Ayam Penyet here also came with free complimentary soup).
Ayam Penyet Siti Rabiah
For those looking for a non-traditional Ayam Penyet and are in with the salted egg craze, this spot is a must-visit for you.
Location: Simpang 28, Bangunan Hj Abd Rahman Hj Hussin & Anak, Menglait. Next to Ren Yi’s cafeteria.
Cost: BND 6.00
Thoughts: Again, the Ayam Penyet here had a wonderfully thin and crispy skin. I loved that it was smothered with a thick and creamy salted egg sauce that was not only milky and rich but also had a great salted egg flavour. Although the sauce was rather creamy, there was just the right amount of it so that it didn’t overpower the chicken nor made it feel like it was too heavy of a meal. The sambal here had a natural sweetness to it which I found to compliment the savoury chicken. However, I did find the combination of the sambal with the salted egg sauce to be rather odd and would recommend having them separately. Overall, I loved that the salted egg craze has graced even Ayam Penyet as I thought it fitted with the fried chicken quite well and would probably save the sambal for dipping my vegetables into.
Ayam Penyet Tamu Selera (Restoran Roliyana No. 7)
Although you will be spoiled for choice in Tamu Selera, one of the recommended places to have Ayam Penyet is Restoran Roliyana. With a cheerful stall owner, closely packed seats and friendly cats around, you’ll feel like part of the community in no time.
Location: Next to St Andrew’s Church in Bandar Seri Begawan
Cost: BND 3
Thoughts: The chicken here had a really great flavourful crispy skin and probably had one of the most juicy and tender meat. That being said, I did find that the chicken here had felt rather greasy. We chose to have both the original and spicy sambal to come with our Ayam Penyet. The original one had a great salty flavour to it with a sweetness like that in tomatoes. The spicy one had a sharper chili aroma, slight smoky flavour and builds up spice almost immediately. Overall, I loved the atmosphere in Tamu Selera but also felt that the sambal here had a more layers of flavours and with its price in mind, I felt that the Ayam Penyet was well worth it.
What are your thoughts on the Ayam Penyet mentioned here? Did I leave out some of your favourite Ayam Penyet restaurants? If so, please let me know in the comments section.
Any other recommendations?
Do you agree with my choices? Did I leave out some of your favourite Ayam Penyet eateries? If so, let me know in the comments section.
*Editor’s note: This story was written in collaboration with our local friend from Bruneian Eats. You can follow ‘Bruneian Eats’ on Instagram by clicking here. To visit the ‘Bruneian Eats’ blog, click here. To read her previous write-up that was featured in ‘Neue’, click here.